The House of Small Shadows
Catherine's last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top TV network saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and a few therapists later, things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself — to catalogue the late M. H. Mason's wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she'll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from the Great War. Catherine can't believe her luck when Mason's elderly niece invites her to stay at Red House itself, where she maintains the collection until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle's "Art." Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but Mason's damaged visions begin to raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she'd hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge and some truths seem too terrible to be real... in The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.
Unease escalates to stark terror in Nevill's intricately plotted, character-driven shadow show of numinous ritual and madness. London auction appraiser Catherine Howard is an unstable young woman with a tragic past of "imaginary" playmates and an abducted friend. She is summoned to the infamous Red House in the English countryside to appraise the exquisite taxidermy and doll collection of deceased artist M.H. Mason. Soon her sanity is further endangered by malevolent Edith, the artist's deranged and manipulative niece, as Catherine becomes fascinated with grotesque panoramas of uniformed rats reenacting wars and rooms of leering handcrafted dolls. Catherine's unstable reality is engulfed by a twisted wonderland where shadows whisper, ghostly children walk, and life feeds art. The occult is internalized in her troubled psyche, inviting a dreadful symbiosis between the paranormal and perception. Nevill (Last Days) strengthens traditional gothic atmosphere and the haunted house motif with probing literary sensibility, eschewing simplistic scares for awe and lingering ambiguity. This emotionally intense, intellectually challenging supernatural novel explores secret geographies of conscience while raising hackles, and is addictively readable.
This is one seriously creepy read!
I am now a solid fan of Adam Nevill. I have yet to read one of his books that I have not thoroughly enjoyed. The only reason I haven't given this 5 stars is because I don't fully understand the ending. But maybe that's just me, since none of the other reviewers seem to have had this problem. Whichever, The House of Small Shadows is scary, spell-binding, beautifully written, and it IS intense!